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Bar Veloce Gets New Neon, Preps for Court Showdown - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


Bar Veloce Gets New Neon, Preps for Court Showdown


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New Bar Veloce signageDaniel Maurer New signage at Bar Veloce.

Those flyers calling for a boycott of Bar Veloce have disappeared from the neighborhood – and the wine bar got a spiffy new sign today  – but rest assured there’s drama on the horizon: the bar on Second Avenue is gearing up for a courtroom fight with the disgruntled ex-employees who sued it in April 2011. A series of court filings made as recently as yesterday reveal that both parties will go to trial before a federal judge on November 5.

You’ll recall the twists and turns of the case: three employees sued Bar Veloce for unpaid wages and labor violations. In February, Frederick Twomey, the owner of the bar, filed a countersuit alleging that one of the plaintiffs, ex-employee John Sawyer Preston, defamed him and damaged his business by posting flyers urging customers to avoid Bar Veloce and other restaurants he owned. In turn, Mr. Preston filed a counter-counter suit alleging that the defamation suit amounted to unlawful retaliation in response to the original claim of backwages.

But now a layer of litigation has been peeled away: late last month Mr. Twomey filed a motion to withdraw his defamation suit (a hearing regarding that case is scheduled for Thursday) and yesterday, Mr. Preston withdrew his counter-counter suit as part of an agreement that paves the way for November’s trial.

Interestingly, an agreement signed in May explains the recent scarcity of anti-Twomey flyers. It also hints at why both Mr. Twomey and the ex-employees’ lawyer, Maimon Kirschenbaum, did not return phone calls: both parties agreed to not post any more flyers or talk to the press. A second confidentiality agreement filed yesterday reinforces the tight-lipped policy.

Still, a settlement is not completely out of the question. Prior to the gag order, Mr. Twomey told The Local the court battle had taken its toll. “That’s why these cases are always being settled. You’re looking at a half-million a year,” Mr. Twomey said, adding that he was paying around $40,000 a month in legal fees.